Now don't get me wrong, I am all for planning and thinking things through, deciding what is best for my family. However, can we plan birth, really?
I have been there, once I got pregnant I was immediately enthralled with the idea of hypnobirthing. I didn't fancy a water birth, I just kept imagining myself slipping around the birthing pool in quite a comical fashion. The hypnobirthing idea came to an abrupt end at 20 weeks pregnant when I found out I had placenta previa. I had plenty of time to get my head around the idea of a C-section and actually started to quite like the idea. Birth doesn't always allow for a 'heads up' on what is likely to happen. Are we giving some women the idea that they will be in control of something that really is an unknown, just by calling it a 'Birth Plan'? We can only really be in control of how we respond to some events, not the events themselves.
I understand that different health professionals will go through the birth plan in different ways. However, I often hear women talking about failure during birth and how this led to feelings of sadness and sometimes depression. When questioned, the failure is often associated with the need for drugs or interventions. Birth is magnificent, difficult, scary and beautiful and also generally very 'in the moment'. Every birth is different, some calm and gentle, some scary and exhausting, some very early and some terribly late and unfortunately some are sad.
What is a good birth? In my opinion its one where the woman feels supported and cared for! We can all appreciate that what we have come to know as a natural birth (no drugs, interventions), is ideal for wellbeing but it's not always a given. There are some wonderful NHS and private groups that support individuals and couples in the run up to birth, and some discuss the endless possibilities more-so than others. It would be great to see a unanimous focus on 'The birth possibilities', engaging in a mindful approach. A plan of what would be preferable with more consideration for the ultimately unknown. Can we help to alleviate the pressure that some women place upon themselves, reassure them that it's OK to live moment to moment during birth? Ultimately there isn't a huge choice. Can we work on re-educating about a 'good' birth?
The body operates more efficiently when tons of stress hormone isn't pumping around it. The baby will be thankful too. Having a mindful pregnancy and birth encourages work with sensations and tensions in the body, moving away from the analytical mind where worry has come to be a normal resting state for many. Paying attention to raw emotion and sensation and less to the wandering analytical mind can reduce the likelihood that the body will go into fight or flight mode, which could create more difficulties.
If we are open to the possibility of moment to moment change, rather than just an ideal, less stress will be experienced mentally and physically, enabling the body to work better with challenges while giving birth. I am not saying don't go for what you want when preparing for birth, research it, get advice on what's best for you, but include thoughts around the possibility for change.